Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Face of Evil:

(I posted this over at STTA, but it is one of those that kinda fits both places, so I am posting it here as well.  Maybe somebody else will find it that way.)

What does the face of evil look like?
We see it all around us, but most often we see it in silhouette, if you will.  In fact, often as we sort through the aftermath of grotesque wickedness, like the law-enforcement investigators in Boston, we see the horrendous aftermath, but we don't see the face that perpetrated the crime.   

The fact is, evil wears different masks:  They are found all across the spectrum from the distortion of extreme righteousness, so called, as was the case with evil on that first Good Friday, all the way to the just out-and-out, unadulterated badness, that too often stalks our streets.  
The Bible is clear that evil is here.  The Devil is not merely a personification; he is a real, spiritual person, Satan, Lucifer, the Dragon, and he gets around, and gets a lot done.  In the book of Job, he describes the territory he has marked with his foul scent:  "I've been 'roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.'"   (Job 1:7)  In the New Testament he is described as the "Prince of the Power of the Air."  (Ephesians 2:2)--no more localized than the air we breath.  He is not the evil opposite of God.  He lacks, for instance, the omni attributesomnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. He does get around, though, he is cunning and powerful, and he does have help.  His network is so widespread and effective that John says "The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one."  (1 John 5:19)    Not only are these spiritual entities busily spreading evil, you and I, the Bible makes clear, have evil in our core, and in the same way that the physical ecosystems of our world are degraded, the moral spiritual realm is polluted.  (Read Romans 8, and Ephesians 2:1-10 for both description and hope.  An evil tempter, tempting people with a propensity to sin, in a world that is skewed in an evil direction--there is a recipe for a mess.
Carnage, like that in Boston, gets our attention and causes us to cry out for answers:  

"Where is God?"

As to the last question, I assert that God is both here, with you, and in Boston.  The Bible teaches that He doesn't take coffee-breaks.  Look herehere, and especially here to see some things I have written after past tragedies.

The face of evil is sometimes sanctimonious, at other times on fire with raw hatred.  It often is heavily colored with selfishness.  If you look around the eyes you can detect deception.  Ironically, and in a way that troubles me the mouth on the face of evil is often seen to be grinning.  

I guess what troubles me most about thinking of the face of evil is I sometimes see it looking back at me from the mirror.
It's STTA.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wading into the swamp of Family-Relations and trying to lead others through . . .

April 7, here at Covington Bible Church, Pastor Doug Williams and I started a series on the family.  Doug's message on Husbands Who Love Like Christ can be found here.  My message on Colossians 3:18 is here.
Last night I decided that it would be good to give a chance for folk to ask questions, and attempt to offer some answers, based on these first two message, not that the concept of husbands being given the
responsibility of loving leadership and wives being instructed to "be subject" is controversial or anything.
I am posting this blog to do a couple of things:

  1. I want to clear up a possible misconception from the Q&A time, and maybe even apologize.
  2. I want to offer some material that is good for further thought, and continuing in this vein,
  3. I hope some further discussion will take place here.

 Part of my answers last night (If I'm able to do some editing I may post some of those answers.) were along the line of a person unfamiliar with a particular type of automobile asking,
"How do I start this thing?"
My answer was akin to giving the person a lecture about the combustibility of gasoline and the construction of an internal combustion engine.
What they really wanted to know is, "Where is the place where you insert the key on this particular model?"
A couple of the questions centered around The Question--The 800 pound gorilla question:
Does the concept of husband-leadership, and wife submission in the home require that a woman endure abuse?
If my answer did not indicate a clear and unequivocal "NO!" I apologize.  I give that simple unequivocal answer here.  No.
I do not believe that the teaching of scripture is such that it condones any kind of abuse--in this case the question has to do with that way too prevalent sin of husbands abusing their wives.  I do not believe that kind of  behavior is right or acceptable (I'm glad to say that I don't any responsible preacher or teacher who maintains that such behavior is right for husbands.) and I believe that where it takes place relief should be sought.  Furthermore, I believe the church should be at the top of the list of those who offer assistance.

I was right, to indicate that this question has a great many complexities to it.  If I didn't clearly state that simple answer, I am sorry.

A couple of morning after thoughts on those complexities:
  • The maintenance of ethical/moral/behavioral standards is often difficult in extreme situations.
    The position that Doug and I take--which was reflected with our dealing with husbands first--is that wives submitting to their husbands ought to take place in a context of husbands giving themselves for their wives.  So, what is a wife to do in a situation where the "leadership" in the home is not at all Christ-like?
    These quotations from the book Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, acknowledges  this stress in taking what could be called a "general principle" and applying it homes that are outside the realm of what should be going on. I think the authors point us in the right direction.
    "Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband's leadership . . . it is not an absolute surrender of her will."  (41)  "No submission of one human being to another is absolute." (21)  All of us who struggle with this issue would say "Amen," to "We are not claiming to live without ambiguities." (62)
    Throughout the text, the authors make plain that submission does mean that one should be forced into sin.
    The book gives a helpful word on page 196.  This thought is born-out in other places in the text.  What the authors of the book, what I, and what Scripture writers are talking about is an attitude--"Submission is an inner quality of gentleness that affirms the leadership of the husband."
    (The website of the group that produced this book, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, is referenced below.)
  • I hold to an ethical system known as non-conflicting absolutism.  I believe it is possible to respond to the situations life throws at us without sinning, or without becoming the judge of which ethical standard takes hierarchy over another.  Often these judgments are difficult.  One of the maxims that was shared with me back in college is that hard cases make bad ethics.  It is appropriate to work hard to make sure our ethical system covers the extremities, but in doing so, we should not negate the good that a particular standard does in the vast majority of cases.  In this case, the fact that some husbands distort the concept of leadership, and abuse some wives who, perhaps, have a faulty view of submission, should not prevent us from teaching a Biblical principle that is of benefit to countless homes where proper leadership and submission is being practiced.
  • We need to exercise caution in "taking sides" when this gets out of the theoretical and into a real home.  Words like "exercising leadership," or "abuse" are notoriously slippery.  What some consider leadership is harsh and abusive.  What other refer to as abuse may be merely an inability to get their own way in a minor matter.  The culture in which we find ourselves has a great impact on how we see these matters.  Our goal should not be to justify our personal preconceptions and cultural prejudices by the use of the scripture, but to bring our behavior into alignment with the teaching of the Word.
  • I'll leave further bullet points for commenters. I hope this will bring about a conversation.
In the question-answer last night I referred to two positions on the view of the relationship of men and women in general, and particular on wives and husbands.  You can find out more about these two positions at the websites below:

(If readers know of other website that reflect the two positions more accurately, or clearly, please let me know.)
The Egalitarian Position is the represented by those who, by and large, play down male female differences.  It is an over-simplification, but this position is sometimes described as Christian-Feminism.
You can find out about this position from Christians for Biblical Equality.

The Complimentarian Position--the postion to which Doug and I hold--is represented by the book I quoted above and this website: Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.